Before covid-19, the educational finance gaps and inequalities in learning opportunities were already visible, and the pandemic has only exacerbated these issues. Since the covid-19 pandemic has led to a global and unprecedented disruption of education at all levels, the United Nations has published a policy brief on education under covid-19 and beyond, highlighting the importance of education in just and equitable recoveries. The brief is a review of the impacts of the pandemic on education and recommends four key areas of action to implement sustainable education beyond covid-19.
The first key area focuses on ensuring the safe reopening of schools, through an inclusive approach that responds to the needs of the most marginalised and takes into account the voices of all key actors. It is recommended that as soon as the transmission of the virus is under control, governments should take actions to reopen schools leaning on recent guidelines.
The second recommendation targets the protection of education financing and the implementation of measures, such as fighting tax avoidance and evasion, revising tax incentives and treaties, solutions for the longer-term issue of debt sustainability, etc. It also calls for the international community to protect official development assistance for education.
Building resilient education systems for equitable and sustainable development is the third recommendation. This implies that education systems should focus on equity and inclusion, reinforce capacities for risk management at all levels, ensure efficient leadership and coordination, and make sure that every stakeholder is taken into account through consultation and participatory mechanisms.
The last recommendation focuses on engaging an innovative approach to teaching and learning, to rethink educational methods and systems. It emphasises a positive change in education by preventing dropouts and focusing on marginalised groups, promoting the value of teachers, reinforce education monitoring, and strengthen the flexibility of the school system.
Moreover, the policy brief expands the definition of the right to education to include connectivity entitlement, it is an important decision that ensure the right to education even in learning remote situations.
It states: ‘Considerable attention has been given to the use of technology to ensure learning continuity. Those digital solutions to improve teaching and learning which are institutionalized in the aftermath of the pandemic need to put equity and inclusion at their centre, to ensure all children may benefit from them.
Teachers and learners need free and open source technologies for teaching and learning. Quality education cannot be provided through content built outside of the pedagogical space and outside of human relationships between teachers and students. Nor can education be dependent on digital platforms controlled by private companies. Governments could support open educational resources and open digital access.’
In parallel to the policy brief, the UN has also launched a campaign to ‘save our future’. The campaign which runs from the 10-16 August, and is supported by various UN agencies and partners, with the aim of promoting the recommendation contained in the policy brief and to ensure that children, and their futures, are not forgotten as countries implement policies to mitigate the devastating consequences of the pandemic.
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